“Not all dogs bite.” That statement rang true in my mind after the Lord revealed a part of my true self to me a while back.
I try to go for a walk most mornings. On my way around the neighborhood one morning I saw a strange dog approaching from the distance. When I was around 5 or 6 years old I was bitten by a dog and had to go to the doctor. It left me with a fear of strange dogs. I love animals, including dogs. My heart always goes out to strays and homeless dogs, so this fear is kind of paradoxical.
Use your imagination and picture this scene in your mind. I walk with a large red umbrella. I had read that if you are approached by an unfriendly animal, open the umbrella quickly and that will frighten them, as well as keep them at a distance. Here I am approaching the dog, or should I say avoiding the dog. The dog continues to approach me. As he got closer, I opened the umbrella. Then I realized that this “fierce dog” was in fact a small friendly dog, wagging his tail and literally smiling at me. Here I am standing 5’10”, facing this little dog with an umbrella opened to about a 4 foot span, not to mention the pepper spray in my back pocket. This poor little dog took one look at me and in confusion ran the other way.
Now this is where it gets funny….and embarrassing. As I was “defending” myself from this “fierce dog” a car was approaching from behind. Can you imagine what I looked like? A full grown man, holding a red umbrella opened to frighten this dog away. And not just any dog, but a small dog with wagging tail and a smile, no less. I had to laugh at myself.
As I closed the umbrella and continued my walk, the Lord began to speak to my heart these words, “Not all dogs bite”. My mind went to the scripture in Mark, chapter 5 verses 1 through 13. Jesus was going across the Sea of Galilee to the territory of Gerasa. The Good News Bible says this in Verse 2, “As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, he was met by a man who came out of the burial caves there. This man had an evil spirit in him.” Wow!
Have you ever met or been around someone, you thought acted like a mad pit bull? And you felt intimated by just being around them?
Jesus had just got out of the boat. He hadn’t even had time to stretch his legs, when he was met by this “strange dog”. But what did this man do? He ran and fell down on his knees before Jesus and screamed in a loud voice, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God! What do you want with me?” Now that is submission to God. The evil spirit in this man submitted to God and Jesus delivered him.
I imagine this man was quite intimidating. Allow me to paint a picture. Here we have a naked man caked with dirt, with stringy matted hair, long, sharp and ragged dirty finger and toe nails, face distorted, body humped over in torment, eyes wild and unable to focus clearly. And the odor of one who has not bathed in a long time. Scripture says that chains wouldn’t hold this man. Yes, he was truly intimidating. But Jesus delivered him.
God gave me the example of this wild man of Gerasene to remind me that he doesn’t want me to be afraid to approach my fellow humans whom I encounter each day. Not all people or dogs appear at first glance as they really are. I’ve often been too intimidated to approach people who looked mean or tough. But God continues to remind me, and I think maybe you too, that “Not All Dogs Bite”. And when we open a door of communication through which His love can flow, a completely different person often emerges.